On Monday it was the Jimmy Howard and Andreas Athanasiou show to earn the Red Wings a third straight victory. After the Bruins won last night, Detroit finds themselves back in a Wild Card spot, but just one point back of Boston with a game in hand. Two points tonight would be nice, but it won’t be easy with a familiar foe in town.
The Chicago Blackhawks lead the entire Western Conference with 83 points (39-20-5) and were nearly everyone’s choice as the Trade Deadline “Winners.” They added Winnipeg Jets’ captain Andrew Ladd along with a few depth pieces in Tomas Fleischmann and Dale Weise. This is the first meeting between these two teams, so let’s break it down!
THE RED WINGS
This is the lineup that has won two in a row for the Red Wings, so don’t expect head coach Jeff Blashill to make any changes tonight. If the Red Wings want to be a Stanley Cup contender they need more consistent production from Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist. Tatar added an assist on Monday, but played a team-low and personal season-low 9:25 TOI. Nyquist played more than Tatar, Athanasiou and Jurco, but still only saw 12:12 TOI.
Tatar had 29 goals last year, but is only on-pace for 22 this season, while Nyquist had 28 and 27 in the last two season but is barely on-pace to crack 20 this season. The emergence of Dylan Larkin and now Athanasiou certainly eats into their ice-time, but increased production will see the duo start to get more ice again.
*** Morning Skate Update – The Red Wings will not make any changes to their lineup that has won two in a row, which means that Brendan Smith and Teemu Pulkkinen will be healthy scratches. ***
Ladd was the first-line left winger that the Blackhawks have been searching for all season long. He had an assist in his Blachkawks’ re-debut (played with them from 2008-2010) with Andrew Shaw on the other wing because Marian Hossa continues to work his way back from a lower-body injury. Dale Weise could make his Blackhawks’ debut tonight, he has been waiting while he works out work Visa issues.
The Blackhawks second line of Artemi Panarin-Artem Anisimov-Patrick Kane has been together all season-long and have been scoring from Game 1 to present. Kane leads the NHL in points with 85 (36G / 49A) and Panarin leads all rookies with 57 points (22G / 35A).
*** Morning Skate Update – The Blackhawks forward lines will remain the same, but veteran defenseman Christian Ehrhoff will make his Blackhawks debut, replacing Michal Rozsival. ***
BETWEEN THE PIPES
Petr Mrazek missed Monday’s game with a “tender groin” but will return to the Red Wings’ crease tonight. It will be his first career start against the Blackhawks. Mrazek allowed three goals on 27 shots in Detroit’s 5-3 Stadium Series win over the Avalanche on Saturday and comes in at 11-5-5 with a 2.02 GAA and .925 SV% at Joe Louis Arena.
Corey Crawford gets the nod for the Blackhawks. After a strange playoff run last season, Crawford has been one of the NHL’s best goalies all season. Crawford is coming off of a 28-save performance in Sunday’s win over the Capitals. However, he has lost five of his last seven outings (2-4-1) while posting a 3.17 GAA and .908 SV%. Hopefully the Red Wings can make those struggles continue.
This was so good, I want you to watch it again! ???
WHERE TO WATCH
Puck drop is at 8:00 p.m ET at Joe Louis Arena. You can watch it on NBC Sports Network. If you aren’t near a television, you can catch it on the Radio with WXYT-FM 97.1 The Ticket.
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